By: Cassidy Martenson
Co-Editor-Chief / Community Outreach Specialist
TRIGGER WARNING: SEXUAL ASSAULT
November is Sexual Assault Awareness month. According to RAINN, 13% of all students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation. It is the role of the campus community to create a system that supports survivors and speaks out against sexual assault.
Students, faculty and staff at IU South Bend are doing their part this month and year-round to raise awareness about sexual assault in the community. Students from the Honors Program worked to share information about reporting sexual assault last week by tabling in front of the SAC.
“If we can break the silence and stigma around gendered violence, we can create a culture where survivors are supported, not blamed,” Catherine Borshuk, Assistant Director of the Honors Program and Professor of Psychology, said. In many cases, the assaults go unreported and the perpetrator never faces punishment.
There are many places on campus that help survivors report their assaults and support them through the process of recovery and even prosecution. The IU South Bend Police Department, Student Counseling Center and Title IX Office work together to meet the needs of the victims.
“Everybody is focused on the victim and the victim’s needs. From a police perspective, we want prosecution, but we will not force that if the victim does not want it,” Kurt Matz, IU South Bend Chief of Police, said.
Whether the survivor needs counseling or wants to seek prosecution, the goal of the department is to meet the survivor’s individual needs. The department works closely with the Special Victims Unit (SVU) in South Bend and the prosecutor’s office in St. Joe County to provide victims with the best support possible.
Matz states that the first step for any survivor is to tell someone what happened. Whether that is campus police, student services, the counseling center or any other trusted resource.
“IU police are here to make sure the campus is safe and focus on what is best for the students,” Matz said.
The Title IX office and Behavior Intervention Team also stands up to support victims of sexual assault. They are committed to providing resources and support to survivors.
“IU makes every effort to respond to all reports of sexual misconduct in a timely, efficient, and equitable manner. To learn more about how to file a report, what happens after a report is filed, support resources and campus policies, you can visit: stopsexualviolence.iu.edu,” Laura Harlow, Director of Institutional Equity and Inclusive Excellence, said.
For survivors seeking counseling and emotional support, the Student Counseling Center offers free services to students. They can help victims with resource navigation, empowerment, education, negative thought patterns and fear and anxiety.
Students are encouraged to report incidents of sexual assault to the university. Campus police and the university will try to discreetly help the victim. The Behavior Intervention Team at IU South Bend is also tasked with looking into reports of violence in an effort to give survivors the proper resources.
To report an assault or to learn more about resources, visit stopsexualviolence.iu.edu or contact campus police. Survivors seeking counseling can make an appointment with the counseling center by calling 574-520-4125. To contact campus police, dial 4239 from any campus phone or 520-4239 from any other phone.